I think I’m supposed to be fixing Marysia’s computer tonight. Tomorrow night, I’m going to try and persuade my Dad to lend me some kit, to apply a temporary fix to our house network (well, I say “fix”, but actually it’s to get it working as we want it to – we’re waiting on a replacement router, because the one we were sent is deficient in the wireless department, and I’m hoping he’ll lend me his wireless access point for a week or so). Thursday night, I’m fixing Fin’s computer.
I am filled with cold dread when working on computers owned by my friends. I hate doing it. I always feel like whatever is wrong with their computer is my fault, and that if I’m the one that has to pronouce a machine dead, or in need of a formatting, or if it’s something I simply don’t know enough to fix, or even if I just discover that I need a bit of software I don’t own, that somehow I’ve failed them. That I’ve let them down.
This is irrational. I am a perfectly competent IT support boy. It’s been part of my job for four years, office network support. And in my professional capacity, I have no hesitation in pronoucing a machine dead, for wiping everything and starting over. And I have no sympathy for users who lose data, either. If it’s important, it should be backed up. As an IT professional, I know that computers aren’t infalible. Parts give out, software becomes corrupt, hard drives get old and tired, wear and tear causes computers to just die. You wouldn’t expect a car to last forever, why would you expect a computer to last forever?
But as soon as the paycheque isn’t involved, as soon as it actaully *isn’t* my problem, I tense up. I second guess myself. I feel guilty when I have to tell them that they’ve lost years worth of stuff.
I can guess, in part, why it is – nobody likes being the bearer of bad tidings. Everyone wants to be liked, and giving people bad news is not a good way to do it. And nine times out of ten, if someone needs my help with a dead computer, it’s pretty horribly dead.
But I find it amusing that when it was my professional responsibility to ensure a computer operated, I had no problem with admitting defeat, and saying that no, the only solution was a new computer. And then when it genuinely isn’t my problem, and I’m only doing it to help out, suddenly I feel much more obligated to make it work, even when I know it may be impossible.